Wave-related abrasion induces formation of extended spines in a marine bryozoan

Christopher David Todd, MM Bayer, JE Hoyle, JFB Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Inducible morphology, the conditional expression of morphological characters under certain environs mental regimes, is a trait usually found in organisms subject to discrete environmental variability. In marine invertebrates, inducible changes in morphology are usually linked to unpredictable attack by predators or overgrowth competition. We present here evidence that extended spine formation in the marine bryozoan Electra pilosa is inducible by an abiotic cue, wave-related abrasion. In a laboratory experiment, we induced the formation of extended spines by subjecting colonies of E. pilosa to abrasion by seaweeds. We also investigated the potential role of Adalaria proxima, a specialist suctorial nudibranch predator of E. pilosa, in the formation of extended spines. While the presence of the predator does not itself induce extended spine formation, the spines do have a fortuitous anti-predator effect, discouraging predation both by A. proxima and another nudibranch, Polycera quadrilineata. We suggest that extended spines in E. pilosa constitute an adaptation for the protection of feeding polypides in high-energy environments, and that plasticity for the trait is of adaptive value in this passively dispersed organism, which exploits a diverse range of substrata and epifaunal habitats.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1605-1611
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences
Volume264
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 1997

Keywords

  • PHENOTYPIC PLASTICITY
  • ADAPTIVE PLASTICITY
  • INDUCIBLE DEFENSES
  • VARIABILITY
  • ADAPTATION
  • SELECTION
  • EVOLUTION
  • ECOLOGY

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